Possessing all the requirements of a true superpower – population, resources and an overall central governing body – circumstances have consistently combined to prevent the Federation from joining the ranks of the great empires. Battered over the course of the centuries by numerous invasion attempts by the Russian Coalition, and with the Ottoman Dominions and the Empire of the Blazing Sun often chewing at its eastern and western extremities, the Federation is also plagued by destructive internal politics – the Mongolian Khanates of the Iron Horde who hold the Federation’s northern border regions with Russia are particularly fractious.
The Emperor, although in theory the absolute overlord of the collection of kingdoms that comprise his nation, in fact has to rule with a combination of shrewd diplomacy and political ingenuity, playing off one kingdom against another in order to further his own goals. In addition, the Federation’s strong and well-justified distrust of foreigners and their intentions has prevented it from acquiring overseas aid in its industrialisation process, resulting in comparatively slow progress compared to the rest of the world.
Nonetheless, many see the Federation as a sleeping giant. Its forces were powerful and numerous enough to stave off a major Russian invasion during the 1840s, although not without sustaining considerable losses. However, one thing the Federation is not short of is manpower, even if a large proportion of its armed forces are poorly equipped and lacking in modern weaponry. There are two reasons for this; firstly, such weaponry is often in short supply and secondly, all such equipment is issued from centrally administered imperial armouries, as the Emperor feels he cannot fully trust his more ambitious underlings to employ it only for its proper purposes.
However, to ensure security, and also to guard against potential treachery, the current Guangxu Emperor maintains a crack force of elite guards regiments, equipped with the most modern firepower the Federation can muster, including a considerable number of the infamous ‘Dragon’ fire-throwing Land Ships that gained such a fearsome reputation against the Russians. The Emperor is continually seeking to expand the size of his forces, for he recognises that other nations are well aware that his domains are a rich storehouse of resources of all kinds. In fact, he has gone as far as to modernise and begin to extend the Great Wall originally constructed by his ancestors as a shield against the Mongols in a former age.
Now, the Emperor wishes to use the Wall to protect his heartlands from further Russian encroachment. With a vast application of manpower and resources, this project is set to become the greatest industrial venture yet attempted in China, and the Emperor and his court are determined that it should be carried out solely by Chinese industry and labour. In fact the Wall effort alone is, the court hopes, going to act as a spur to Chinese industrial and economic, as well as military development.
The Chinese Federation generally prefers to stand aloof from foreign affairs wherever possible, content to be largely self-sufficient and generally unwilling to be dragged into the affairs of other nations unless they directly threaten its own interests. Just recently, another military force has become available to the Emperor and his Celestial Court, one that has forced the Lord of Ten Thousand Years to reconsider his foreign policy – none other than the rogue Blazing Sun General Oni and the Wani division of the Blazing Sun Army of the Sword.
Oni wishes only to continue his war against the enemies of his Empress, and has no particular enmity towards the Federation. The Guangxu Emperor is considering his options carefully – handing Oni and his troops over to Shinzua would surely gain him great favour with the Blazing Sun’s ruler, but then again, having an entire division of the Blazing Sun army effectively at his disposal against a renewed Russian or Britannian threat is also a very tempting prospect…